New Landscapes … New Eyes

horizonIf you bothered to read my Home page, you will see a quote by Marcel Proust prominently displayed:  The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.  It is  a motto that suits me.  For most of my life I have been good at appreciating the life I have and found fulfillment in looking inward for adventure rather than outward.  But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t benefited from an adventure that stretched my boundaries now and then.

Back in 1993, I was an engineer working on sonar equipment for the US Navy.  I was pursuing my doctorate at USC and was perfectly happy in the confines of my office and laboratory, doing what engineers do to develop new systems for someone else to use.  I was also happy to be a worker-bee and not a manager-bee in the company hierarchy.  The systems we developed usually incorporated new concepts that had never been tested at sea, so many of our engineers would go to sea with systems for weeks or even months at a time.  They returned with stories of cramped quarters on ships and seasickness during storms at sea but the also returned with an understanding of how our systems were used by the Navy.  I was perfectly fine with getting that knowledge second hand when they returned.   My manager at the time, on the other hand, was convinced that my career would benefit from taking the system I was working on to sea.

Going through some old photos recently, I found a stack of pictures taken on my first sea test.   The testing was done on a retired Navy destroyer built long before stabilization in high seas was incorporated, which made life interestingQ09H5N when we encountered 30-40 foot seas.   The GIF at the right, based on some still photos taken from the ship’s Command and Control Center, will give you a notion of what that was like.  The quarters were claustrophobic and the overhead above my bed dripped condensation.  I had a bad reaction to a seasickness patch and ended up in sickbay.  There was a fire in the engine room that sent us to lifeboat stations with our overboard suits, a matter that a secretary relayed to my wife at home.   But I look back fondly on the experience because it changed me.   I had heard of the bonds that formed during adversity on sea tests but I got to experience that first hand, developing relationships that would last for years.  I got to operate a sonar in the actual conditions at sea, which would open my eyes to issues I’d never considered.   I got to write a report during a violent storm while strapped into a chair in front of the computer console.  Not fun but fulfilling.  It was a time when issues at work and outside of work were eroding my confidence in myself.  I came home from that trip changed.   I’d stepped way outside of my comfort zone and excelled.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m posting this for several reasons.  I want to archive some of the pictures from the sea test for my grandkids to see in the slide show above.   They should know that their Papa wasn’t always overweight and sedentary, that he was capable of an adventure now and then.  But I want them to know, too, that sometimes being pushed outside your comfort zone is God’s way of saying, Go ahead.  Do this.  I’ve got your back.  Sometimes, new landscapes can give you new eyes.  And I suppose that’s not a bad lesson for everyone.

Explore posts in the same categories: perspectives

Tags: , , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

One Comment on “New Landscapes … New Eyes”

  1. allangilmour Says:

    Thank you for posting your interesting lines. The three of us over at the “Gilmours Nice Place” blog are certainly glad we were not on your ship back then. It looks thrilling and adventurous but the three of us are more land rats than seafarers. My two furry friends especially liked your little photo of the pussy cat in the left-hand side corner. Well, they would wouldn´t they, what with being cats themselves.
    Inspiring lines and thought-provoking. Kind regards from the three of us. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: